Welcome to day eleven of my 30 Days of Ayurveda series! Throughout these blogs and videos, I will be sharing some upbeat thoughts and wellness tips, as well as some Ayurvedic tricks and food recommendations to help you lead a balanced life.
At the moment, maintaining mental stability and balance can be a real challenge, enter mindful breathing. The world is very much upside-down, with things that we once thought were real and true turning out not to be so. However, by tapping into the power of daily mindfulness, breathing or meditation techniques, we can help create some well-needed mental balance.
Personally, I believe one of the best ways to achieve this is through the breath.
We should focus on our breathing and take each day exactly as it comes: feeling up when we’re up, and feeling down when we’re down. Simply finding some contact, some central point of balance, is definitely a way to help navigate these uncertain times.
Start by bringing the palms of your hands together. Feel that connection between the left and right side of your body, perfectly centered in the middle. From here, we can start to watch the breath: nothing more, but simply watching it come, watching it go, and feeling very centered.
Where should I practice mindful breathing?
You can do this in your home, in your living room, or in your bedroom. You may even choose to do this practice outside. I often go to an amazing fen near to where I live. For me, particularly when I come outside and feel connected with nature, it really helps my soul to sing. It helps me feel like everything is going to be okay. The the days will pass, the nights will come, the sun will rise, the sun will set, and all will be well again.
Continue to just watch the breath and then begin to deepen your breathing more.
What happens to our breathing when we get stressed?
When we get stressed, we often begin to ‘paradoxically breathe’. This means instead of breathing from the diaphragm (felt more as deep belly breathing), we begin to breathe more from the chest (where only the upper chest expands and contracts as we breathe). By only breathing from our chest, we deny ourselves the opportunity to take in double the amount of oxygen available in each breath. Clearly, this is not beneficial.
Once the stressful event has ended, we can often fail to end the incorrect breathing pattern. This pattern gets reinforced over time, which ultimately means the body is starved of oxygen and vital life force (also known as Prana) to the tissues in the body. As a result, this causes tight muscles, aches and pains, tiredness and lethargy, headaches, digestive disturbances, and lower levels of fitness. Eventually, it can even lead to many auto-immune conditions.
How to correct your breathing pattern
If we can return to the correct breathing pattern, we can move towards reclaiming some balance. For an in depth video on how to assess your breathing click here. Feel your breath come from the diaphragm, expanding outwards in all directions as you inhale. As you exhale, draw back inwards, relaxing your chest and letting your shoulders come down. Try to grow as you inhale and soften as you exhale, focusing on your breath: the breath of life. Feel your connection to life, balancing the left side and the right side.
When you’re finished, take a deep breath in. Hold the breath, filling your body full of life and light, and feel grateful for this moment. Then, when you’re ready, simply exhale.
For a few minutes each morning and evening you can check in with your breathing technique. You can just simply sit and mindfully watch the breath for a few minutes. This can then become part of your Dinacharaya, daily routine.
Over the next 30 days, I will be sharing even more tips and tricks to help you build some great Ayurvedic routines. Hopefully, they will soon be embedded in your life and you can progress with them. Be sure to let me know how you’re getting on, and why not share how mindful breathing has helped your mental stability and balance? Find me on Instagram @anneheigham and on YouTube.